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G.P. Gottlieb says, “I’m an Unreliable Witness”

G.P. Gottlieb is the author of the Whipped and Sipped cozy mystery series. You can find out more about her on her website,, or by clicking here, read her last post here, and buy her books here.

If I were called to the witness stand, I’d immediately admit that I made up the three mysteries I wrote and someone else published, without really knowing a single thing about solving crimes. Except for what I’ve read or seen on television, bad dreams that have kept me awake in the night, and a few insignificant brushes with bad guys, I am neither a fountain of crime information nor a reliable witness.

There, I’ve said it. So, sue me if you read one of my books and thought I knew anything about law enforcement or police work or catching bad guys. The first time I even met a policeman, it was a scary situation in which I’d been accosted by an older boy at the playground, forgot to tell my mother about it, and got dragged to the station after another girl in the neighborhood had a worse experience with someone who sounded like the same person who approached me. I felt horrible about it afterwards but did not get the correct answer when asked why I thought the bad thing happened to that other little girl.

I might have said something like, “she wasn’t a fast enough runner,” but thankfully, nobody remembers the details. Also, thankfully, young girls today learn that being touched by strangers is wrong, that they must immediately inform an adult, that telling the story can help protect other young girls. It wasn’t spoken about back then.

I’m not giving names and dates or anything, so you can’t check the veracity of anything I’m writing here, but my next visit to the police station was after a man hiding in the ladies’ room of another city park near where we lived, jumped out and tried to grab my sister. She only has a vague memory about it, but I remember my mom rebuking me for worrying out loud that the park’s annual Easter egg hunt might be cancelled because of a bad guy on the loose. Again, nobody explained what it meant or told us how to handle inappropriate behavior back in the 1960s.

Happily, my sister was also a good runner, and hightailed it out of there, and like what happened to me, it later came out publicly when that predator nabbed someone else. I’d like to say that my sister and I learned our lesson, but remember the part about me being an unreliable witness? And she barely remembers the Easter egg hunts!

Because of my previous experience, I got a second helping of the lecture reminding us to tell a grown up when anything bad happens. I still remember being disappointed in the police officer who questioned my sister, because he didn’t ask the embarrassing questions that the other officer asked me. That didn’t go over well with the grownups either.

Over the next few years, my sister and I acted like international spies, doing a perimeter check of every room we entered to make sure there weren’t any bad guys hiding, facing the door in restaurants so nobody could sneak up on us, and never going into a public restroom without checking under every stall. My sister just remembers fearing everything and everyone.

We also became a little less confident in ourselves – maybe it wasn’t that I was such a fast runner, but instead I got away because it was too much trouble for the molester to follow me. Or maybe it was because there were other people in the park, and he could only reach a 9-year-old girl if she was a space cadet like me, who at the time, didn’t pay attention to her surroundings and blithely sipped water from the fountain without noticing a creepy guy in the bushes.

That’s when I started making up stories, mostly in my head. I didn’t save any of them. In my stories, I was the hero who always got out of tricky situations. Sometimes the robbers would crack up at my jokes and forgot to take my quarter (which is all we needed to buy candy at the Five and Dime), or I’d magically foil their plans by diverting them into a room that could be locked from the outside with a hook and eye latch, like a gate.

We lived on the first floor of a two-flat, and often spent summer Sundays at a city beach, but in my stories, we lived on a grand estate next to the sea, with gardens and cooks who offered different flavors of ice cream for dessert every evening. I imagined bad guys sneaking onto our beach and trying to kidnap one of my siblings or break our windows. I was the one who always saved the day in some heroic fashion, even though I was a skinny little girl with buck teeth who typically froze at the slightest hint of anything scary.

So where did I learn about estates and bad guys, mysteries, and adventures? Except for those early brushes with evil, I admit that I learned everything I know from reading books. When I wasn’t practicing the piano as a child, I was reading; day and night; in bed, at the beach, at the kitchen table, or in the living room while everyone was watching television.

I might have waited many years to complete, submit, and get my first mystery published, but I’ve been making up stories since I was a child. Unverifiable stories, true, but again, I never claimed to be a reliable witness.

GP Gottlieb

G.P. Gottlieb is the author of the Whipped and Sipped mystery series, as well as an interviewer on the New Books in Literature channel of the New Books Network podcasts. You can find out more about her on her website,, or follow her on Twitter, and Facebook.

This Post Has 18 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Laurie’s Story

    How frightening for you as a child to get so close to evil. Unfortunately, this type of abuse is all too prevalent. I’m glad you put your frustrations and fright in a cathartic and productive career (writing) that can show justice triumphing over injustice. Thanks for sharing this.

    1. GP Gottlieb
      GP Gottlieb

      It’s kind of cathartic to write about everything! Thanks for responding –

  2. Christine DeSmet
    Christine DeSmet

    Sorry to hear of those bad experiences and the lingering fears or emotions. It’s a lot to ask of a child to be accurate in those situations, or even an adult, so I found the interactions with police interesting. Perhaps some of this helps you write your characters in their frightening situations? Or are those feelings of fright something you don’t write into your characters? It certainly can go either way. A good post!

    1. GP Gottlieb
      GP Gottlieb

      Thanks for reading – yeah, in retrospect it was interesting, but at the time, it was traumatizing!

  3. Sheila Lowe
    Sheila Lowe

    It sucks that little kids have to worry about what we now call “stranger danger.” Using your imagination to make sure the good guys win is a great way to deal with that kind of trauma. As for getting police procedure as accurate as we can as writers–you know that’s a big bugbear of mine 🙂

    1. GP Gottlieb
      GP Gottlieb

      Thanks for responding – yes, I know that you are careful about procedure – I just try to avoid talking about it!

  4. Carl

    Some frightening near brushes you had as a child. Those really linger. I’ll bet you use some of those fears in writing your stories.

    1. GP Gottlieb
      GP Gottlieb

      Yup. One day I’ll even describe walking through the station, studyig his desk, and staring out his window!

  5. Valerie Biel
    Valerie Biel

    Our childhood memories can certainly be unreliable the further we get from childhood, but isn’t it interesting how some things really stick with us . . . I’m sure you’re a completely reliable witness! I trust you 100%!!

  6. GP Gottlieb
    GP Gottlieb

    As long as readers know that my stories/books are based solely on my imagination!

  7. Avatar
    Margaret Mizushima

    So glad that these frightening incidents from your past were only brushes with the bad guys. It’s interesting how these childhood events stick with us. And now some of those feelings are coming out in your writing. Love your stories, GP! Thanks for sharing in your post!

    1. GP Gottlieb
      GP Gottlieb

      Thanks for reading and responding – truthfully it’s only the feelings I remember!

  8. Sharon Lynn
    Sharon Lynn

    Holy cats! You turned out so kind and lovely for someone who encountered such horrors.

    1. GP Gottlieb
      GP Gottlieb

      I thought everyone encountered horrors of one kind or another – mine weren’t all that bad, considering….

  9. tracey64p

    Galit, how scary! I’m sure those memories shaped the writer you are today! Great post!

    1. GP Gottlieb
      GP Gottlieb

      I think all of our experiences, good or bad, shape us!

  10. Sherrill Joseph
    Sherrill Joseph

    Galit, thanks for sharing those scary childhood times. I also grew up in the ’60s, and you’re right–we couldn’t talk about “the bad guys” like kids, thankfully, can today. I’m glad you survived those incidents and are now turning lemons into lemonade via your writing. Brava!

  11. GP Gottlieb
    GP Gottlieb

    Thanks, we all have those kinds of memories! I’ve put most of them in one way or another into my writing –

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